tv Melissa Harris- Perry MSNBC December 1, 2012 7:00am-9:00am PST
all while saving the things that go in our wallet. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. get fresh cut savings. live trees are arriving weekly. this morning, my question. do we value the lives of young black men? plus, the women making the case to fight for their country. aids in 2012, the young people at risk. first, how the president is playing godfather and making republicans they better not refuse. good morning. i'm melissa harris perry. it is december 1st, one month
from the deadline for the so-calleded fiscal cliff. the drama is building. check out what house speaker, john boehner, had to say this week. >> the white house spends three weeks of trying to develop a proposal that calls for $1.6 trillion in new taxes, calls for a little, not even $400 billion in cuts and they want to have this extra spending that's actually greater than the amount they are willing to cut. it was not a serious proposal. right now, we are almost nowhere. >> oh, mr. boehner, you have got it all wrong. it is a serious proposal, really serious. godfather serious. watching the d.c. drama convinced those of us in nerdland that president obama must be a fan of the francis ford copel la masterpiece.
remove the lethal components and there are valuable negotiating lessons that the president seems to be picking up on, like this one. >> my father taught me many things here. he taught me in this room. he caught me keep your friends close but your enemies closer. >> well, president obama keeping his opponents close in hand. lunch with mitt romney. a mid-week summit with the business leaders that supported romney. the ceos of marriott, at&t and state farm. of course, meeting, after meeting, after meeting with speaker, john boehner and republican leaders. with this strategy, president obama keeps his opponents from being able to claim that he is unreasonable or stone walling. heck, i have y'all over every day, he can claim. it also ensures that they know where he stands, in the oval
office. return there for another four years by the american people. which is why the president has been reminding his coalition of this. >> don't ever take sides against anyone against the family again. >> president obama is letting his electoral coalition or his family know that now is the time to hang together totally, rather than allow republicans to pick you have vulnerable, nervous members of the democratic coalition, he is getting the family in line. he reached out to voters to do their part to continue campaign. calling on all americans to raise awareness about the fiscal cliff, to get in touch with their congressmen to tweet my2k. here he was doing this in small businessville, pennsylvania just yesterday. >> it's not acceptable to me. i don't think it is acceptable to you for just a handful of
republicans in congress to hold middle class tax cuts hostage because they don't want tax rates on upper income folks to go up. that doesn't make sense. >> in addition to rounding up the voters, he deployed tim geithner to the hill. he just know that leader pelosi is letting house democrats know they better not pull a fredo during negotiations. the president's offer was this. $1.6 trillion in tax increases, a hefty $50 billion in mortgage relief, infrastructure investments. extension of unemployment insurance and a deferral of cuts to medication payments to physicians. oh, yeah, no more debt ceiling fights. he is going to take that one off of congress' plate all together. there is a claim of about $400 billion in entitlement savings.
they carry no guarantee and are pushed off another year. right about the time the members of congress will need to start their re-election bids. not such a good time to cut medicare. once these details were made public, it was clear the president is indeed a student of the dawn. >> senator, you can have my answer now if you like. my offer is this, nothing, not even a fee for the gaming license, which i would appreciate if you would put out personally. >> see, the consequences of the fiscal cliff are real. from a politicaler speck tiff, president obama is holding all the cards here. if he does nothing, the push area tax cuts expire, raising revenue. spending cuts will bring down the debt and possibly help secure social security and medicare. apparently, the president this is that he is making an offer
republicans can't refuse. joining me at table is msnbc contributor, joy reid. cnbc contributor, dan dicker and laura flanders, the host and founder of grittv.org. thanks to all of you for being here. is this, in fact, a new president obama. is the kind of negotiating tactics we are seeing now something that wasn't happening in the first term? >> i want to see that seventh head. i'm really looking forward to that. i love this whole don core leone thing. i know this was one of those things. apparently, they got in touch with a dog food factory. i will put that one aside. >> i don't think anything the administration is doing this time is going to get them on that case. i do think this represent pigs after the last election in the first term, there was this idea you were going to go to the country and keep the grassroots momentum that had brought obama
to office going after the election. two things happened. one, people felt that fizzled out. a lot of people said, wait a minute. we were good enough to invite to the dance but not good enough to dance with. others felt, we were brought in not organizing for america but organizing for obama. do we really have a voice in the health care debate. this time, they are trying to do it differently. the question is, what will the administration find as it goes out into the country. are its priorities in this discussion about the deficit, the people's priorities that brought the administration to office and what will they do at some of those meetings as people say, well, we also want to talk about raising the minimum wage. we also want to talk about workers and the condition of work in this country. that stimulus spending, maybe it is not big enough. there is definitely an effort to redo some of the mistakes of the last term. they are in the same peril louse situation.
>> we are looking at the $1.6 billion in tax increases. those are the big power moves. does that jive with what people want here? >> these aren't new numbers. these are the numbers that the president originally talked about. the original time two years ago and then a year before that in terms of bringing down the deficit. his plan for bringing down the deficit, which got nothing from boehner. i like the way you are putting this. in the first term, it seemed to me that obama was very conciliatory towards republicans. he wanted to create a grand one and he learned something in his first term. for right now, he is offering them nothing. see how you like it. we tried it the other way for four years. i've gotten nothing back in return but blockage. let's try it this way and see how it goes. >> it suggests the possibility of political cover, that he makes the big offer. if this is not the godfather, if this is a used car negotiation, he is low-balling but giving
plenty of cover. they get to say 1 trillion attacks as the increase. is it really an offer for nothing or is it that much more political cover that he is offering? >> i think it is more political cover. if you look at the contrast with 2010. they were in a different situation. in 2010, there were things that obama needed. he had a re-election coming up. he also wanted that big payroll tax which was essentially stimulus. he wanted the debt ceiling increase, the start treaty, don't ask, don't tell. they crammed a lot of stuff into that lame duck session. republicans had just cleaned up in that mid-term. republicans had the leverage. obama had the needs. obama does not face another re-election. it is republicans that have needs. they have grover norquist and these people on the right nipping at their heels. they have a need. obama has the leverage.
we are seeing a reversal. democrats, the base, are not used to being winners. zat. we are the boss. we can do what we want. democrats are feeling excited because they actually have it over the republicans. >> i agree. i think in a certain way progressives tend to have a preference for being on outside. we almost prefer the sniping from the outside mentality of position. part of the danger for that is when you finally find yourself in the position of power, you have to be careful not to fredo out. we have this question about what do the people want and how, in fact, president obama holds his coalition together? we'll talk a lot more on exactly this after the break and what happens when the president goes to the mattresses, you know, bring the canoli. [ male announcer ] if you suffer from heartburn 2 or more days a week,
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if the white house and congressional republicans cannot come to an agreement on the budget, then a package of automatic, across the board spending cuts known as sequestration goes into effect one month from today. you know how you always start the new year with a diet? well, without a deal, we are not only going to see a much slimmer federal government but possibly much leaner household budgets as well. more than 2 million americans may lose their unemployment benefits. the average american household could see a tax increase of about $3500 and child nutrition programs could lose more than 500 million in funding. democrats may benefit politically if we go off the cliff.
can ordinary americans afford the cost of this round of negotiations? dan, what is the case for nothing, for just going off the cliff? >> a great case for nothing. at a station where i contribute, they are absolutely apaplectic about the economic impact. i'm not sure there is going to be an enormous imfact. i follow markets. the stock market hasn't reacted at all even despite the fact that we are going to go over the cliff. if they get a deal, it will be the most superficial can kick. yet, the markets are pretty strong. economic people seem to think we are going to go over the cliff. maybe it is not as bad as people think. let me tell you some things that are going to happen. $600 billion in military spending cuts. even the democrats don't want to touch this one. this happens automatically. you get a reversal of all the bush tax cuts. you can put back most if not all
of them after the start of the year. you get an increase in the amt, which hits higher-income people. maybe you can reverse some of that for people making less than $100,000. there are a lot of things to like about this from a liberal point of view. the things that are bad, you can sort of work around after the new year and after this happens. economically, the democrats are holding all the cards. >> if we are going to consider with our godfather mentality, the don wouldn't do it but michael corleone would. you are literally shooting the police officer in the sense we are killing public jobs. there is a way in which if this goes into effect. if it is not just a short game of chicken, if it is not 20 days from january 1 until the new inauguration, if it is two months, three months, those kind of cuts are real.
maybe the markets don't mind. it does feel like american households mind. >> you have to remember that those costs are over the course of the year. i totally agree with darren. the markets have priced in the fact that there is going to be at least a post january solution. it is not going to happen before the end of the year. from a political sfand point, i couldn't believe that they exempted medicare, medicaid and social security, that the republicans agreed to this, a deal whereby a congress that can never get anything done would have to get something done by a date certain or you were going to have these tremendous defense cuts. it is a great deal for democrats. even on the case for the cuts that would really hurt middle class people, there is an argument that republicans would be under such political pressure to redo the tax cuts they would also be able to get in putting some of that spending back into social programs. >> one of the thing we are running into is the problem of the rhetoric and the problem of the metaphor of the cliff. it suggests that the nation's families have been high on the hill. if we hit the edge of the road,
then they will be done. it hasn't been like that for years. in one sense, to ride out this fiscal cliff discussion, there is some kind of resolution. it is not as if everything is okay. even if this cliff is averted with respect to unemployment, sefrg you have mentioned, that's an important point. on the conversation we had before, if barack obama cannot take a hard line now, when is he going to do it? >> i think people are waiting for him not just to fight this hard around this deal as you both mentioned but around the fate of the future of people in this country. >> i want to know that point. this ad is running on cable and local tv stations in d.c. it was organized by the alliance. it is about the discourse. let's listen to that real briefly here. >> our taxes are about to go up. >> not the taxes on our
dividends, though, right? that's a big part of our retirement. >> no, it is dividends too. >> we worked hard to save. >> the president and congress have to work together to stop this dividend tax hike before it is too late. >> this is the kitchen table. oh, our dividends. that's imaginary. >> your average family is not suffering from earning $250,000 or more such that the dividend investment value is really hurting. this is complete manipulation once again and ignoring the fact that we have a wealth gap here. what we are talking about is changing taxes and dividends that will affect only a portion of this country that are earning $250,000 or more. >> as soon as we come back, we are going to talk about exactly that. i am going to bring ari melber in. it is the point about the big family that is president obama and the fact that he said we gotta stay in the conversation. he is keeping everyone together. that's the don's challenge, how he will do it next.
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we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger. the role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. america has never been about what can be done for us. it is about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. that's the principle we were founded on. >> that was president obama in chicago on the night he was reelected. calling on the american people to stay involved. he meant it. this week, he has been taking his case directly to the american people. it is making some folks lose their mipds. >> when is the next election, becky? >> four years. >> why does he need to pump up
his base and go on the road? >> go to charlotte and say, fairness and then they run to try to beat the tax man, which is -- he is doing his job as a corporate executive. >> shame on them. i can't even talk about it anymore. >> joining our panel is msnbc contributor, ari melber. an author of the report about how the campaign tried to turn its grass roots network into a governing force in the president's first term. nice to have you with us. >> despite the drama that it is causing, the president is going directly to the folks. this is something they were criticized on between '08 and 2012. what's it going to look like now? is the president going to be able to use enter base? i think it depends on what they ask them to do. the report that i wrote interviewed dozens of ofa activists, talked to campaign staff and people on capitol hill in both parties.
what i found was that they became basically a single issue group around health care, which was exciting to many people, a promise that the president was looking to deliver on but also didn't give them a lot of meaningful asks. when you are doing a campaign, it might be getting supporter cards or signing up people to events and later it is g.o. tv. it is very clear. it gets a lot less clear when you talk about health care or the fiscal cliff. the first thing they did. i spoke to some people at the white house about it this week. they tried to get the base activists involved in the persuasion campaign around the fiscal cliff. they have an info graham and information that shares. teddy goff is one of the digital directors of the campaign has noted that when they want to talk to people on facebook, they reach $10 million with any contact they consider pretty good. that's the first thing they are doing. the harder question comes next.
if you don't have the things work out, if you don't get a deal on the fill buster to stopt obstruction, do you bring them in to do something more confrontational. >> let's take a look. laura was anticipating some of these arguments, particularly around progress sives. if you look at the chart that you generated of national ofa e-mails, from obama for america to organizing for america, we see it is primarily about health care. you get this big spike. there is some work going on about sotomayor and economy in the budget. it is clear the big spike is around health care. that's what the e-mails were about. this week, we saw the e-mails were, send out your #my2k tweet. senator boehner is tweeting, the
house gop voted to stop my 2 k. >> it depends on what you want to do. tweeting and facebooking is great to activate people to do things. the question is, what things and what happens to on the grass organizing. on the ground organizing has to do with having an effect locally on a local issue, being able to influence your local media, your local politicians. that is one of the politicians where those that are freaking out about why is obama continuing the campaign fails to understand. it is not as if decisions we focus on are not affected by what is happening locally. the right has known this forever. to organize people at the base and influence local media and officials is important. i want to go back to the health
debate. a lot of the local activists wanted single pay yor. in this case, same thing. what have we seen this week, massive organizing among retail workers, over the thanksgiving period by walmart. a big emphasis on unemployment but also minimum wages. the administration may get more than they bargained for. >> you showed the clip of mr. santelli, the same that took to the floor and gave a big speech that was part of the genesis of the tea party outrage. the best thing about the tea party was that they were working on governance. there was an issue on the hill they wanted to speak to. i don't agree with all of their tactics. it is very good when we have people say let's get involved in policy. campaigns are more fun to most people. >> you have a clear outcome, an election day and an outcome. >> as interesting as it is to energize the base, what's also important to me considering
after the election we got from boehner he wanted to bring the a.c.a. back into the negotiations for some is wild read. you still see the same kind of intrancy generals. wait a minute, who won this election? this mandate is mine. i earned it. 3% i won a national vote by 3% which in modern times is a landslide. we won seats in the senate. we took seats in the house. >> the house, if there were no part in the jerry man derring, that's as important as energizing the base and getting some move in social media. >> at the same time, they have to get a number of votes. they need 218 votes in the house. part of the art of washington politics is giving your opponents something to run against you in the next election. >> what they have to give house republicans is something they can take back to these very conservative jerry man der districts. it is not as if most people are running in swing districts. most are running in hard right
districts where they can get a primary challenge. the reason you are hearing boehner ask what are you going to cut? they want the president to put some ideas on the table. all of the bad ideas, they are all coming from the republican party. they are espousing all the ideas the people hate. they want the president to put some popular ideas out there e has no incentive to do so. we are going to come back. there us a character here of the anti-tax campaign. no official leadership rule but a brutal character. yes, grover norquist. is his clout finally starting to sleep with the fishes? that's next. [ male announcer ] in blind taste tests, even ragu users chose prego. prego?! but i've bought ragu for years. [ thinking ] wonder what other questionable choices i've made?
i suppose republicans in congress didn't learn their lesson about grover norquist when he was imbroiled in the dirty dealings of jack abramhauf. they are now. they finally realize he is not a voting member of the body. now, republican senators, graham, corker, congressman peter king have said they no longer feel obligated to the norquist tax pledge. ha has kept norquist relevant all this time? his war chest, money coming from the powerful special interest groups that are lobbying to keep taxes low. joining us from san francisco is lee fong, contributing writer for the nation magazine who has been following the money trail. hi, lee. nice to see you. >> good morning. >> splin plain to me. i think we have the information of him as an independent actor. he is really embedded in the web.
talk to me about what this is? >> i looked at grover norquist's foundation. over 66% of its more than two-thirds of husband budget came from just two billionaire-backed nonprofits. if you peel back the layers, the people giving money and propping up norquist are folks like steve schwartzman and investors that have a lot to gain from not cutting taxes. they pay a shockingly low rate. they don't want to pay a penny more. when he says he is going to retaliate against some of the folks that are deviating from the pledge, he means his donor network will go after these folks with attack ads and money for primary challenges. that's where his real power base comes from. >> earlier this week, my colleague, chris hayes tweeted that, let's be clear. it is not grover norquist who is
the reason that republicans are against these tax increases. it is rich people. so grover becomes the rich person or the person who is a representative of these rich folks. do we need to stay focused on where the real pressure is coming from. >> when norquist goes out and says, we need to cut government, cut subsidies but don't touch any of the tax credits, here is what he is really saying. what's the difference between a $1 million oil tax credit and a $1 million oil tax subsidy, nothing. they are economically equivalent. a tax cut can't be touched. if you do that, you are raising taxes. he is known for going around capitol hill threatening anyone that ties to cut these billion dollars in wasteful tax cuts. he is providing an idealogical cover for corporate lobbying.
the oil and natural gas industry provides significant funding to his foundation. >> i want to bring in my guest on exactly this question. dan? >> a very important point that i hope the president will get to. a real consolidated energy proposal. it is a direction he has been going, a little bit in the direction of clean coal i think that's the wrong direction to go. on the bigger picture, there has been nothing -- if you have to point to one thing, i'm always talking about this, that talked about the disparity, the wealth disparity we are looking at, just one thing, it has been this down ward slope in the upper bracket, marginal tax rates that have caused that. this president, that's why it is so important for us to hold on this. this president obama is not moving things back to the 50s or the 60s. >> he is moving back to the '90s. >> he is moving things back just ten years to a place where even just turning the boat around a
little bit at this point would be great. that's where we get all these crazy figures about 93% of the wealth that was created over the last four years went to 91% of the people. the other 9% was left for the other 7% of the people. >> for everybody else? >> that's right. that's because of marginal tax rates. boehner doesn't have the votes on a marginal tax rate. >> the huge support for the president is when we look at public opinion polling, we see that 60% of americans support raising taxes on income over $250,000. >> eight of the ten wealthiest counties in the nation voted for obama. rich people are in favor, surprisingly, a lot of them, in raising taxes. they know it is unfair. >> how do we put what lee is talking about, the incentive structure that's crafted by that 60%? >> lee made such an important point, which wears repeating. grover is this flashy mascot that gets in the way of the
transactional politics at play. when you drive that wedge, for example, bill crystal is not a billionaire. he has often aligned himself with billionaire policies and he is on box news saying we have to get off this billionaire giveaway, republicans, and do something else. that's a guy that has worked very closely with the establishment of the republican party. there are other bill crystals out there. one of the things you can do with the power and the lists that obama has, he haept done yet, maybe he will, is try to drive those activists towards targeted campaigns against groups, companies, even pundits and other sort of establishment figures and try to build a knew coalition. i am not of the opinion that every republican wants to go off the political cliff. >> why do we keep asking him
what he will accept in these fiscal cliff debates? >> one of the great norquist tricks is a mass amnesia spell over washington. people have forgotten he laundered money for jack abram. he helped tom delay with a kfrnlts street prospect. he was' registered lobbyist for fannie mae. he was a tobacco industry hack throughout the '90s. folks have forgotten that. they take him pretty seriously. >> we used a stuffed grover doll on this set at one point. we are trying to take him as not seriously as possible. i appreciate so much, lee, the work you have done to help us see what grover norquist is. thank you to lee fong in san francisco and thank you to dan dicker here at the table in nerdland and the rest are back for more. up next, the similarities are undeniable. an african-american teen shot dead. an older white man arrested. again, it happened in florida. is there no presumption of innocence for young black men. my letter is next. this holiday, share everything.
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the police acted the very next day. a man was arrested, charged and is in custody, being held without bond. this, the alleged shooting of jordan davis by michael david dunn is not that, the shooting of george martin by trayvon. another 17-year-old african-american boy shot and killed. the alleged assail lent, an older white man, say he felt threatened. the boy he is accused of shooting was reportedly unarmed. another claim of self-defense to justify the killing. another pair of grieving parents losing a child and seeking justice. since for those of us that know them and love them that this is no country for young black men which is why i am addressing my own blackler for whom it may concern. it is me, melissa. if you are like me, this latest
news has got you concerned. here we are again. it's been barely a year since the killing of trayvon martin resurrected that old angst, long buried but always there just below the surface, you know, that feeling. it's the one that makes us here about trayvon and now jordan davis, reach back across decades into our history for another boy named emmett till. then, it was a whistle at a white woman. now, it's a hooded sweatshirt or music being played loudly from a car but always this. one thing has been the same. no presumption of innocence for young black men, no benefit of the doubt, guilt, not determined by what they did or said but presumed to be inherent in their very being. they need not wield the weapon to pose a threat. if you are a young black man, you are threat enough. in yet another case, it seems
that perceived threat is just enough for someone who would play judge, jury and execution ner. jordan davis will be laid to rest today. his father described his son as a typical teenager looking forward to starting his job at mcdonald's saving up to buy his first car. the day before he died, his mother says, he gave the thanksgiving dinner prayer where he gave thanks for his family. before jordan could be eulogized at his funeral, they were already telling a different story about this young man and who he was. according to police, jordan and his three friends were sitting in an suv at a jacksonville gas station when he pulled up next to them and asked them to turn down their music. words were exchanged and this story, dunn's attorney, robin, tells us, about why her client felt threatened. he sees that much of a shotgun coming up over the rim of the suv and all he cease are heavily tinted front windows that are up
and the back daris down. he doesn't know how old anyone is. he knows a shotgun when he sees one. he got his first gun from his grandparents when he was a kid in the third grade. police have no evidence that jordan and his friends have any weapon in their car. michael david dunn, a registered gun owner did have one. he used his gun to fire eight rounds into the boys' vehicle. two of those bullets struck and killed jordan davis, sitting in the back seat. dunn fled the scene. these are the facts as we know them today. details will continue to emerge. as we watch the case unfold, let us be sure while we are watching that we continue to see in jordan davis what michael dunn did not, a human being, no the a threat. sincerery, melissa. [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus presents the cold truth.
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you shot him over some music and he was in the car. there is no logical reason. there is nothing logical that you can say that would make me believe that you were threatened. >> that was lucia mcbeth, the mother of jordan davis, the teenage boy that was shot while unarmed at a gas station last week. back with me are "the grio"'s joy reid and you talked with the lawyer representing the family. they have some angst about this turning into a trayvon martin parallel. talk to me about what you know. >> in talking to the lawyer, he said that the trayvon martin
case was a great blueprint of whatnot to do. by exposing the family and opening them up to attacks and being targeted, we saw that not long after the family was ubiquitous. the white sue prem sifts came out. that's what they don't want. there are similarities in this case but it is completely different. >> this is like our challenge as we were sitting in nerdland. we make a decision of what we are going to talk about. after having read your piece, i thought this is a family that is asking in a certain way for a cheeld. on the other hand, the story itself feels like we can't allow it to happen in the darkness, we need the public light of scrutiny, because you were saying earlier that at lease the based on what you understand of how florida's laws work, there is some possibility that this may be a defense that works for this avail lent. >> florida is one of the highest incour
incarcerating state, a death penalty state. up until the point of conviction tir , it is a defense friendly state. it gave tremendous latitude to a shooter so long as the person they shoot dies. as long as no one can truly prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you didn't feel threatened shall the burden of proof is on the defense and almost on the decedent to show that somehow they were not threatening. this guy has the opportunity to use a stand your ground defense before they even get to a full trial. it is starting to look like that's where it is going to go. >> obviously, we don't know whether or not these young men had a weapon in the car. it certainly is possible. the assailant had a weapon in his car. that's part of what made me pause. folks are driving around with weapons in their cars. is the problem stand your ground
or how we think about how armed everyone should be? >> i think it is the intersection. the weapons raise the incident rate of the use of weapons and laws that afford a greater latitude of their use. as a lawyer, i look at it and say, what is the law for? the law is for justice. the law is for conduct. justice, because no matter what happens, we expect a just system to afford some modicum of balance. these stand your ground laws as joy so lightly put it take some of the extra powers that we give to police, because of what we ask them to do and transfer them to civilians that don't have the training and aren't required under the law to get it so that, yes, it is hard in a situation where you might genuinely feel
fear to identify what is a weapon and what is something that looks like a decision. when police make that decision, they are operating within a set of training. what we've done with these laws in these states is, basically, i believe and i don't know the facts of this case yet, because we don't have all the facts yet. i know at the aggregate level, when you give people more incentive to shoot first and ask questions later, they shoot first. >> and ask questions later. we are living with that. >> i think psychologically, it kind of reinforces the war between the us and them. unfortunately, the them tend to play loud music, wear hoodies, be of a certain color and live in a certain neighborhood. >> that's the piece that made it worth talking about at least briefly this morning before we know all of the legal questions. beyond adjudicating this case, there is a question. this is my core fear. for all of us that parent children and have black husbands and have black fathers, this is
the core fear for all of us that love black men in this country. it is what michelle obama said about barack obama in 2008. he could be killed at a gas station. >> it is not just everyday indignities of being followed around or denied a job. we see it in stop and frisk and racial profiling. we are seeing it, it seems, more now. justifiable homicides are up. psychologically, whether people go into these situations saying i'm going to use my stand by ground law rights. how does that reinforce what they already think in the buys as and the confluence of that. >> part of this is also related to violence. when young black boys and men die, it tends to be at the hands of other young black men and boys. that also even in our failure to stem that violence, we also then provide more opportunities for thinking of black men and boys in this way. in an interracial con text, that becomes part of that. >> we forget, black men are the
most victimized group in america, not just perpetrators but the victims. >> thank you to joy and ari and trumani. women are fighting for the rights of all of us. as we go to break, i'm going to leave you with this. a salute from jacksonville fire and rescue department to jordan davis as the plane carrying his body departed for atlanta. [ male announcer ] if you suffer from heartburn 2 or more days a week, why use temporary treatments when you can prevent the acid that's causing it with prevacid24hr. with one pill prevacid24hr works at the source to prevent the acid that causes frequent heartburn all day and all night. and with new prevacid24hr perks, you can earn rewards from dinner deals to music downloads for purchasing prevacid24hr.
raw steel into a beautiful instrument like the manly marine that ends up possessing it. we are looking for a few, good, tough men, just men. well, in april of this year, we learned that the united states marine corps school that produces infantry combat officers will enroll its first-ever female students this year. women that had previously been limited to logistics, citizens maintenance and engagement. it was partially because the idea that logistics doesn't have a combat role doesn't survive first contact with reality anymore. that's the truth despite the pentagon's ban on women serving in most combat units. they have been in combat already, especially in afghanistan, not just because of what the marines did in april or what the pentagon did in february when it opened 1400 combat related positions unavailable to female troops.
that easing and bending sounds like progress. glass ceilings only ease and bend so far. more than 238,000 other military positions, mostly in the army and marine corps remain off limits to women. this week, new action was taken to change that. with the help of the aclu and the service women's action network, four service women, one of whom is my guest, filed a federal lawsuit against defense secretary, leon panetta, arguing that any pentagon ban against women in combat roles is unconstitutional. statistics say more than 1,000 women have been killed in the line of duty in iraq and afghanistan. many lacked combat training, having to learn on the fly. which leaves us with the question. why can't we have a few good women too at the taubl are two people that are asking the very question. one of them is one of the plaintiffs, captain zoe badel and anu bagwati.
thanks so much for being here. zoe, why this case and why now? >> i've been serving for four years and did two tours in afghanistan and led a program where i had a team of female marines that supported the infantry units, lived with them, worked with them, patrolled with them every day. whether they came in contact with the enemy, so did my marines. i took care of my marines. i would assume the organization would take care of us. after ten years, these rules haven't changed. they are not reflecting the reality on the ground. i think it is time we changed that. >> i think that's not a small point. women started having this conversation. often the first thing that will happen is the same kind of conversation that women happened in police units and fire fighting units. they say, well, you just physically are incapable of these things. this is a protective measure to keep you from them. the fact that you are for all intents and purposes already in combat. >> that's absolutely right. >> and have been for ten years. i think the evidence shows that
women are doing this and they are succeeding at the jobs. we certainly want to see a fair policy where we are not trying to lower standards. if we want to have a chance to compete, to achieve the same standards, the men are currently the only ones able to compete for it right now. >> this feels at this point no one is asking for a change in standards but the very basis of your eye denity should not keep you from having a job. once identity should never be more important than one's capacity. >> this is a classic case of sex discrimination. there is no proof women cannot do the jobs they want to do. we are talking about qualified wm women. we are not talking about anyone that does not pass the requirements of a school or training facility. >> there is no efforts to change or modify what the military thinks are the relevant characteristics for combat. >> absolutely.
those 238,000 positions you are talking about, if the exclusion policy were to go away probably, 238,000 women volunteers would not volunteer for those positions but there would be many that did and do want to try for the roles and joined specifically to serve their country in combat. they are being denied that opportunity. >> one of the truth about this sort of long set of wars we have been in, this is a different 1%. very few americans are handling all of the -- bearing all the costs of the war for the 99% who know and experience very little of military life. many of my viewers may not understand that when you don't have the ability to go into combat officially, there are certain professional aspects that you are shut out of. walk us through that a little bit. what is the professional track, the part of being a soldier or being a marine that you are shut out of if you can't officially be in combat? >> absolutely. there are a couple different areas. first of all, it is sort of the
recognition of what you are doing. it's a unit, an organization that's job is to fight. everything else is there to support that. if you were serving in positions that were closer to that fighting or the units that do that fighting, you are going to be closer to the unit's mission and closer to the organization's mission and more competitive and better qualified. women are currently denied those positions. additionally, it is a question of training. we are already there. we are already doing it. my marines, we did a three-month predeployment training package. we certainly spent some of that time learning how to patrol, refreshing our shooting kills, that sort of thing. the units we were supporting had done their entire careers focused on these skills. they are going to be better prepared. that's a question of safety as well. >> there are consequence on the veterans side as well. women that deploy to iraq and afghanistan that are not believed to have been attached to these combat arms units
aren't getting the health care and benefits they need. when women are reintegrating back into society, they are not getting the support, the mental health care or the compensation. >> the assumption is they haven't seen combat. >> maybe they were communication specialists or a member of a female team attached to an infantry. they are not getting the same credit or recognition. the brass ceiling in the military world, as opposed to the gas ceiling prevents women from accessing more assignments. the most prestigious assignments are tied to combat arms. there is no question about it. >> the military is a fighting force, as you point out. >> let me ask you this. does don't ask don't tell make any room for this. does ending don't ask don't tell and recognizing that on the question of gay identity this is no longer relevant for fighting, does this also help women who can say, okay, listen, if we're going to get rid of don't ask, don't tell, this is also a time
to get rid of gender discrimination in combat. >> it is the first step. it does not automatically lead to a more welcoming environment for women in the military. gay men are benefiting more from it than lesbians who want to be in direct round combat. >> we are going to stay right here and add a couple more voices into the conversation. this struggle for women in the military goes all the way back to the continental army. just who was robert shirless. i'll tell you when we come back. [ emily jo ] derrell comes into starbucks
with his wife, danielle, almost every weekend. derrell hasn't been able to visit his mom back east in a long time. [ shirley ] things are sometimes a little tight around the house. i wasn't able to go to the wedding. [ emily jo ] since derrell couldn't get home, we decided to bring home to him and then just gave him a little bit of help finding his way. ♪ [ laughs ] [ applause ] i love you. i love you, too. ♪
debra sampson of massachusetts was robert shirless, disguised so she could join the continental army. wounded in battle, she once used a knife to remove a musket ball she had been shot with so as to avoid anyone discovering her gender. anyone that says that women aren't tough enough to be in combat can stuff it. tough isn't enough in the united states armed forces. well over 200 years since debra sampson was digging a musket ball out of her thigh, we are still working to have women have the full right of being in combat. back with me is captain joebadel of the united states reserve and anu bhagawadi of the service network. also at the table, laura flanders and ari melber. what is the position of panetta
and of defense on this? i want to understand what is the pushback against doing this? >> the defense department has recently opened up 14,000 jobs to women. it is sort of scratching the surface. i call them bread crumbs really that they have offered to women that have already served in iraq and afghanistan. they are not opening up any additional m.o.s., military occupational specialties. women still cannot be infantry or in special forces. they can't be in armored units and so on. 14,000 is really a minority of those 238,000 positions we have been talking about. >> look. we're at ten years into war, more than ten years into war. with an all volunteer force, you would think at this moment, when people want to serve, you want to make as many opportunities for service as possible, wouldn't you? >> the administration has done that. a couple of administrations have done it now. opening up criteria for people to be able to join. it is outrageous this continues
to exist. i just need to say. you have mentioned the length of these wars a couple of times. i would like to see fewer women in combat, fewer men, fewer civilians. let's stop with the combat. this question of gender as a criteria of advancement in the military, i love that you shared that story about the confederate army and it reveals. the continental army. >> even if she was in the confederate army, sh he would be totally great. >> the idea of -- i went to the lincoln film. it is on my mind. the idea of vulnerability comes into this. they would be serving with increased vulnerability. they are lower status, they know they are lower status, they are treated as lower status. they don't have as many women representing them in the highest positions in the military has a direct effect on their experience of violence in the military from other members of the military. just in the same way that robert shirtlift didn't dare go for medical service, a lot of women who are doing their work for us
aren't able to avail themselves of the protections and helps they need because they feel they are a marginalized group. >> i want to listen to rick santorum for a moment. he said something about this notion of vulnerability and protection that seems to play into this narrative. let's listen just a moment for that. >> when you have men and women together in combat, i think there is -- men have emotions when you see a woman in harm's way. i think it is something that's natural and very much in our culture to be protective. that's -- that was my concern. >> so he is saying his concern about combat is that men will have this overwhelming desire to protect their fellow soldiers that are women. it is this natural thing that comes out of men. yet, what we've been covering on this show has a lot to do with violence against women in the military by other members of the military that we don't actually get the sort of protective impulse. i'm wondering if that gender
equality would help to manage some of the negativity that we currently see. >> well, regarding the protection instinct, i think we've seen, we've had women in these combat zones for ten years as we keep saying. that hasn't been a factor. it hasn't been a case. everyone performs as they have been trained to perform. they respond as they are trained to perform. they respect the marines knowing that they have the skills and training necessary to fight back with them. that's been the dominant reaction, not some sort of outdated notion of protectionism. it is probably the best counter to the outdated notion. >> the larger issue here, which is the military is not a mayor i tok cracy. we assume the most qualified people are serving in these roles. in my experience in the marine corps serving with infantry men for two years, many of the most qualified people were women. less qualified men were assigned to various positions.
that was a problem for me as i company commander. i couldn't assign the most qualified women in my units because they did not have the mos of an infantryman. >> that insight is so important. gender discrimination means that the military is not a meritocicy. >> you don't get the best talent rising to the top or being able to get at the top. one thing we need to mun chenen that 114 women have died. they have died in the deployments to iraq an afghanistan. it is not as if the policies we are doing here are helping the military or those women. >> being here with veterans, it is hard to be in the conversation, because i feel an emotional desire to protect you.
i'm a civilian but i'm also a man. you can understand what i'm going through. i'm sure if we did anything, pushups, sit-ups, boxing or any competition, i would lose. how much time do we have? the reason i would lose is because you are trained and i'm not. if we both went through training, then what you would want, as you said, is metrics to figure out who then ex sells. jackie robinson was a great baseball player. nobody knew that when he wasn't allowed to compete against everybody else. that's the substantive part. i would echo that. you said it better than i could. on the legal part, the best precedent for this case is the virginia case regarding the military academy where it was an overwhelming victory. the only person that dissented and tried to protect an outmoded sexist model was judge scalia. this case i different. there is good precedent there. i think the court at this moment
in history will be hard pressed to completely duck the issue entirely, although the court has all sorts of ways of trying to split the difference and say, basically, what we've seen to the example you made earlier in some of the areas around discrimination based on sexual orientation. the court can say, give it another look or the military can lead. you have to do something. that's where i would expect this to go. i do not expect this court that has that precedent to do a reinforcement of sexism. >> justices who have cut their teeth on these issues of discrimination. >> after that point, to be very clear, it is a hostile work place for many women in the military. the military is not a perfect environment. the problem is there are fewer options for redress legally for women in the military and service members broadly. if you are the victim of sexual harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or sexual orientation, you have fewer options than civilians.
>> because you have to go through a chain of command and it cob the chain of command that's perpetrating it. >> it is not just that. you don't have access to civil courts. when isiah thomas was sexually harassing an nba employee, she had the option to sue and she won that case for over $1 million, i believe. that's the classic example of an option that's available to victims of discrimination or crimes in the civilian work place that's just off limits to service members. that has to change. justice scalia, interestingly enough, is one of those justices that believes that the so-called fairest doctrine needs to go shlgs that service members should have access to civil courts. >> maybe we will see additional victories. let me say, thank you so much. both of us are probably a little more hawkish than you are. as long as we have a military, it is consistently been a central space where we have looked to for meritocrayy.
if it is a space where it is not occurring, it is critical this is heard. ari is going to stick around a little bit. up next on this 25th anniversary, of world aids day, nerdland spends time with a young woman who says, she doesn't live with hiv. hiv just has to tag along with her. more on that when we come back. d medicare prescription drug plan. with a low $18.50 monthly plan premium, select generic hypertension drugs for only a penny and in-store copays as low as one dollar on other generic drugs after deductible, saving on your medicare prescriptions is easy. so you're free to focus on the things that really matter. call humana at 1-800-808-4003. or go to walmart.com for details.
and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger. today is world aids day. a day that's more important than ever. why? because more than 25 million people worldwide have died of the disease over the last three decades. more than 34 million people were living in hiv last year. hiv and aids do not discriminate. they can affect anyone at any time. here is the story of a brave young woman, author, activist and motivational speaker who deals with this disease daily but will not let it define her. >> my name is marvelon brown.
i was involved with a guy who i always call prince charming. he was it. when he told me he loved me, it meant i loved myself that much more. i wanted to make him happy. he told me one night he didn't have a condom. i thought, okay, we're going to have a baby. it took me two weeks to be sick in the hospital with pneumonia and about 2 1/2 additional extra weeks to be told i was hiv positive. i'm very fortunate that i was tested when i was, because i never would have voluntarily went in to get one. i had too many to get hiv. i didn't look like hiv. i always thought hiv was somebody else's issue and not mine. i didn't care about it until it happened to me. >> do you have a pill box at home?
maybe we can work on getting you a weekly pill box. i think they have two weeks in a pack. >> before i was diagnosed, i felt hiv looked like a helpless kid in african or a skinny, frail white man as tom hanks was in "philadelphia." that was my hiv education. i heard have o iv users and prostitutes. sometimes it is hard to tell them apart. that's the dalily dose annal. i had to be responsible and grow up and have no choice. i have a certain order i have always taken them in. it's weird but got to do it. i take seven horse pills each and every day of my life to combat the hiv that is living in my body. i experience side effects from nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, probably why i'm single, mood swings. the list goes on and on. sometimes side effects from those medications and i have to
take medication for the side effects. so i would say the most pills i've taken in one day have been about 36. >> 24 more hours. then, i've got to take it again. you never get used to taking that medication. every single night at 10:00 p.m. is a reminder of the girl at 19 years old who was scared to stand up for herself. people have turned their back on me. they think hiv is contagious. they think they are different than me. we all had sex. i had friends that had sex and got pregnant. friends that had sex and got stds. we all in the same bag, boo. you ain't no different than me. hiv is a hard disease to live with. however, i'm not going to let it
hinder me. once i contracted it, i said, i'm going to live my life. i've done just that. i live every day to the fullest. i refuse to let hiv control me. i control it. i control my life and my future and hiv just along for the ride. >> we come back. the dangers and the possibilities are young people are facing today. you ♪ ♪ don't know what i'd do ♪ i'd have nothing to prove ♪ i'd have nothing to lose [ male announcer ] zales is the diamond store. take up to an extra 15 percent off storewide, now through wednesday.
fortunately we've got ink. it gives us 5x the rewards on our internet, phone charges and cable, plus at office supply stores. rewards we put right back into our business. this is the only thing we've ever wanted to do and ink helps us do it. make your mark with ink from chase. today is world aids day. by definition, a time people across the world take time to remember those who we've lost to a disease that we have fought against for more than 30 years. when we talk about who is living with hiv and aids in today's world and who is most likely to be affected, the answer is not easy. because there are policy and public health consequences to that question. hiv and aids are not just gay men's health crisis. although, there is that. it is not just a rising trend
among african-american women, although it is that. it is a disease affecting us all. the reason why we need comprehensive prevention, education and care is because it impacts all of us. those factors and more affect the rates of infection specially among young people. according to a new cdc record, 6.7% of the estimated 1.1 million people in the united states living with hiv in 2009 were young people ages 13-24. 59.5% of those youth were unaware that they were even infected. in 2010, those same young people were 25.7% of new ihiv infections. this is not because young people are just ignorant or they don't care as evidenced by the seven young aids activists arrested on tuesday in house speaker, john boehner's office after protesting in the buf against
proposed aids cuts. what we need in addition to more funding is more knowledge and more resources so that our young people are better equipped to protect themselves. at the table, sonia rogstogi, an advocacy coorder ne advocacy, joy reid. sonia, your work is to have conversations with young people. what do they need to know about hiv and aids? >> what young people need to know, as you said, is that hiv is not a disease that is about ignorance. it is not about well, oh, my behavior was so irresponsible, so fill in your negative or judgmental comment. our lives are more complex than
that. it is about prevention. for women, we do not have prevention tools in our tool box that enable us to control prevention of hiv in our own bodies, for example. i think that is a huge issue for youth. >> i want to pause here for just a second. when we look at 13-24-year-olds having these kind of infection rates and particularly the vulnerability of women to infection when they have sex with an hiv positive partner, we have to lay on top of that the statistics that women in that age group, particularly teenagers, are often having sex with mench older than them. the coer sieve nature of those relationships is something we are less willing to have clear conversations about when we are talking about this. >> absolutely. i am really glad you brought that up. one of the focuses that we have been working on and heard from women all around the country is this issue of violence against women and trauma. the fact that violence against women, it doesn't just increase a woman's vulnerability to hiv,
after she becomes positive, it has huge implications for how she will do and her health will do. >> susan, it feels to me like part of the reason that we end up with these rates is because the idea of just getting tested is not really part of our annual checkup. the idea that americans are running in having annual checkups is naive. it is not as if we think i will get my blood pressure, my annual pap smear and my annual hiv test. is there a way to start moving young people towards testing as a routine part of medical care? >> the cdc recommends that all people who are sexually active and people going to their doctors get tested. it is really a push for general internists and family practice doctors to test every patient between the age of 13 and 65. i would argue that you shouldn't stop at age 65. certainly, people who are sexually active at any time really should have an annual
test, because among those more than 1 million people that are living with hiv in our country, more than 20% of them don't know their diagnosis. as you pointed out, so many of them are young people. >> it feels more like there is a bit of a different political vail lance in this moment than there was in the early 1980s. i still think of myselvf as a young person. i remember a world when there was no hiv and then the introduction of hiv into our political consciousness. i remember that sense that it is a gay man's disease. we should be afraid to touch or talk. now, we have the white house with the beautiful red ribbon in context of world aids day. there is still the discussion that has over it something that is not like cancer or diabetes or another medical condition.
>> it still doesn't feel mainstream. among the gay community, particularly among white gay men, the spread of the disease has declined enough to where the activism isn't there where it has moved in to are the communities of color. a community lib liberty center in miami has epidemic hiv. you see poverty and high rates of post-incarcerated people moving back into the community, many of whom are affected and don't know it, coer sieve relationships, even things like dating violence and date rape starting to play into these increasing incidence among young women. you are seeing it is being concentrated more in the politically disconnected community that have the lowest rates of voting and activism. they don't get the attention of
politicians. it has become more of a poverty issue and less of a flashy political issue. >> that feels to me like part of what's happening is that poverty does not cause hiv infection but the interrelationship between poverty and new infection as well as once one is managing the disease and the questions of poverty that emerge. talk to me about that connection between poverty and hiv. >> absolutely. poverty can be a driver of hiv for all the reasons that we were talking about, where poverty can put people into situations that they might not want to be in, whether it is coer sieve relationships or other types of things. our current health care system incentivizes people to stay sick and to stay on benefits and be disabled in order to get services to take your medication, in order to be able to have a healthy life. that perpetuates this cycle. >> i do not want to miss that. can you explain the medicaid link and how this creates this
incentive in a certain way. >> in terms of accessing care, we mentioned during the break, in new york state, we have medicaid is the best insurance money can't buy. with medicaid benefits, people get access to all their medications, doctors advice its advicevisits. arrive to and from the clinic with visiting nurses care. sometimes they are afraid to get a job because they might lose that benefit. that's terrible to think that someone would get out of their care and lose their benefits if they were really working. that's a big problem. >> we will go to break and come back on this. this was sort of one of those ah-ha moments for me. not all states are as generous with medicaid. if you have an hiv positive diagnosis before it passes, you
cannot access new health care, because you had a pre-existing condition. it was actually better to have to live below the poverty line to be able to access medicaid, because in order to pay out of pocket for these, you would have to be making $250,000. every other normal job' world in the middle actually meant that you didn't have access to care. >> just to add to that, think about the message that sends to people. it is better to be below the poverty line to have a healthier life. what does that say about my self-worth and my values a person. >> the one thing that aca, for all of its shortcomings, the fact that it addresses that pre-existing condition really matters. i want to stay on this a bit. when we come back, we are also going to talk to an actress, author, and aids activist, sheryl lee ralph. she is a fabulous actor and an amazing activist. i have a cold... i took dayquil, but i still have a runny nose.
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we're back with our panel talking about the rate of hiv with young people. i want to go to a woman who has been raising money and awareness for hiv and aids. she is joining us before she has to get ready for the divas simply singing benefit concert tonight. i'm happy to welcome actor, author, and activist, sheryl lee ralph. thanks for being on the show. >> thank you, melissa. it is great to be here with you. love you, love your show. >> thank you. cheryl, explain to me, what is diva. what does it stand for? >> diva stands for divinely inspired, victoriously aids aware on this world aids day. that's what it means. it is an acronym. >> i understand that part of your interest in an engagement with hiv and aids activist that it touched you personally, that
you have lost friends and it has touched the community you are a part of. >> as an original company member of dream girls on broadway, i lost so many to aids, not hiv. we are talking the early '80s here. i stood witness to such an ugly time in america when men and women were just dropping dead of a mysterious disease and people found it easy to turn their backs and say nothing. it was horrible. it forever changed me. >> i remember when it began to shift from that when people like magic johnson and others wept public with their hiv diagnosis and their status and all of the sudden, we started to see a shift but i don't think we can forget just how ugly, how brutal and how stigmatizing those early days were, because it continues to have an impact now. >> absolutely. i mean, i was just reading the
newspaper yesterday. in places like south carolina, in prison systems, they still segregate hiv positive prisoners. they still make them wear those white arm bans and send them far away from their family which we all know is one of the greatest things you can have is your family connection. when you send people away, you really break down their will to do better. we still see things like that. earlier in the year, the hershey school wanted to refuse admission to a young hiv man to this great school for a wonderful education, simply because he was hiv positive and they thought that this child was going to be a threat to the overall population of the school. so we still stigma playing a great part in this disease. why and how it gross. >> absolutely. let me back up a little bit and also bring in the panel here. i want to show a couple of stats
that folks just may not be aware of. let's look at the cdc stats on ethnicity and hiv infection. as you see from the 2010 report, in terms of new infections, african-americans are up over 50% of those infections. latinos at nearly 20%. so this is increasingly a black and brown disease in this country. we know also if we take a look at hiv and sex education in the country, i don't want to miss this, that in this country fewer than half of our states have a mandated sex education. only 33 states having mandated hiv education. you and i were talking about on the break, education is part of this. we are looking at those kind of stats for our young people and not bothering to talk about this in the school. >> this is a big problem. education is the foundation of how people are going to prevent
transmission. w we talked about it. it has a very tight link to this issue of poverty as well. when people don't know they are infected and don't know how it is transmitted, this creates a big problem for ongoing infection. >> and communication is important. communication, communication. >> sheryl, talk to me a little bit. i live in the city of new orleans. our hiv and aids infection rates, as well as people living with the disease is quite extraordinary in our city. we have some incredible activists trying to do work there. if you are an ordinary citizen, how do you push back and be of service on world aids day? >> i tell people, get involved, get informed, get the proper information and talk about it. as i cross this country, talking about aids, sexual health and well-being, i'm shocked as how many people cannot talk about
sex, how many parents in this new millennium cannot figure out how to have a sex conversation in an age appropriate way with their children. people continue to act like it doesn't happen. i'm shocked. we've got to figure out how to talk about this. why is it parents don't want schools to talk about sex if they are not going to talk about sex in their own home? >> if you give young people the proper information, you would be shocked at the much better choices they would make for themselves and their sexual well-being. >> sonia, is that your experience as an activist going around and meeting young folks? >> i would have to say that really resonated with me. when we talk about prevention, it is just really interesting to see how our own discomforts, how our own stigmas end up filtering up to this institutional level, in this case, we're talking about sex education in the schools. it is really like i'm going to
go back to that metaphor that i used the tools in the prevention tool box. we need to have sex education that is not only, here is how hiv is transmitted. what does a healthy relationship look like? how does that happen? in addition to that, what are the tools that people, men and women, can use in order to protect themselves? >> thank you to everyone. there is so much still still to about. but this is a day where all of us remember and sheryl lee ralph in los angeles, i am again -- really anytime you want to come and talk about anything but especially thank you for your work on this question. >> thank you. thank you, melissa. after the break, what a jersey girl is doing changing lives in the african nation of liberia. our foot soldier is next.
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this week our foot soldier takes us halfway around the world to the west coast of africa in the country of lie beer yeah. according to a study by unicef, 37% of girls in that country attend primary school. that already low number drops dramatically when it comes to secondary school, down to 14%. studies also show the longer a girl stays in school the less likely she is to engage in sexually exploitive work for money, which is a problem in the slums in liberia where girls as young as ten enter into prostitution so they can afford basic necessities like clean drinking water. in response to these conditions, new jersey native katy myler stepped up. >> my name is katy. i founded an organization called more than me. we help little girls who are vulnerable of child prostitution get off the street and into school. from one of the most notoriously dangerous slums on the planet in
liberia, west africa. >> currently more than me partners with local schools and provides tuition, supplies, school lunches and even medical care for the 108 liberian girls who are part of the program. girls like abigail. >> abigail was ten years old. she was about to be sucked into child prostitution. you know, i find out now that the reasons for that was because she's an orphan, she doesn't even have free drinking water. so even to get a glass of water she needs money. and she doesn't have parents to pay for it. so she got sucked into it by her friends who told her that if she was with a man she would get a dollar. >> thanks to more than me, abigail is back in school. and she's in her class first. she is big dreams of one day becoming a senator so that she can fight for girls in similar situations for her part, katy is hoping to help even more
abigails. and there is good news on the horizon. the liberian government recently donated a building to more than me. now though the structure needs a lot of work, but in january katy will open the doors to the more than me academy in the center of the city. and it will cater specifically to girls from preschool through eighth grade. >> more than me is about living for something bigger than just yourself every day. no matter where you are. with just a little bit of help we would be able to do this for thousands of young, vulnerable girls. i want to shake the they're in the a way that says, what are we living for? who are we? are we living for something bigger than ourselves and that normal people can do really big things. >> for showing us that determination and passion can make a difference in lives an ocean away, katy myler is our foot soldier of the week. to read our interview with katy and learn more about her organization check out our blog at mhpshow.com. that is our show for today.